The security alliance “Five Eyes” requested Sunday that tech firms instal “backdoors” in encrypted software to give law enforcement agents the access they claim they need to police cyber crime.
“In a statement, the top justice officials of the United States , Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand said that the emergence of end-to – end encrypted software that make official oversight unnecessary, such as Signal, Telegram, FaceBook Messenger and WhatsApp,” poses major public safety challenges.
“Consensus through policymakers and international organisations is growing that steps must be taken,” they added.
“While encryption is essential and privacy and data protection must be secured, it should not be possible to operate against the most serious criminal content and web crime at the risk of fully stopping law enforcement and the technology industry itself.”
They called for tech firms to “embed public safety in device implementations,” including “in a readable and accessible format” access to law enforcement.
It was the toughest call to provide “backdoor” links to secure messaging systems for programmers yet.
India and Japan, which collaborate with the Five Eyes community in the intelligence sector, added their names to the statement.
Globally, law enforcement has complained about the difficulty posed by encrypted messages for criminal cases.
Yet end-to-end encryption often provides security from enterprise to political opposition for all kinds of operations.
Pro-privacy supporters argue it will threaten freedom campaigners and encourage dictatorial regimes by coding the means for law enforcement to access a user’s correspondence.
In recent years, in the US and Europe, momentum has been generated to compel the developers of encryption software to offer access to law enforcement.
European countries have come closer to restricting those applications, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns for privacy on the internet.
The EFF said in an article last week that newly leaked European Union documents suggest a proposal to implement anti-encryption regulations forcing backdoor entry ‘within next year’ to the European Parliament.
The EFF said it would be “a radically intrusive measure.”
The Five Eyes statement notes that protections and monitoring will be needed for its initiative so that officials do not take advantage of their access without justification.
They justified the need based on the proliferation of content on the internet about child sexual exploitation.
In the United States, terrorist extremism was correlated to the most notable incidents in which law enforcement said it was stymied by encrypted computers and correspondence.